Editorial : Fee hike in private schools - Sunday 3rd April 2011

IT is quite evident that private-sector education has experienced major growth in Pakistan. Yet many observers feel the state has failed to properly supervise the private sector, which has resulted in not only varying educational standards at these institutions, but also arbitrariness when it comes to setting fee structures. For example, a report in this paper says that private schools in Karachi have hiked tuition fees by between 25 and 45 per cent, which contravenes the Schools` Registration Act. By law private schools are allowed to increase tuition fees by five per cent in two years. Yet it is obvious many institutions are clearly violating this provision. Some parents believe officials in the Sindh government`s education department are facilitating these questionable increases because when the issue was brought to their notice, the officials gave the complainants a cold shoulder. It is true that inflation has affected all sectors; private schools, too, have salaries to pay and overheads to meet. Yet fee increases need to be in line with the law and cannot be abrupt and arbitrary. While some private educational institutions are doing a commendable job filling in the educational void, many schools are purely moneymaking concerns with hardly any state oversight where standards are concerned.
The public sector has failed to perform in many areas, and education is one of them. Pakistan is, as has recently been underscored, facing an `education emergency`. While the state cannot abdicate its responsibility of providing quality public education, it also cannot remain silent when so many parents across the country are sending their children to private schools. For example, in the recently released Education Emergency Pakistan report, it is said that more than half of urban children go to private schools; in rural areas the figure is over a quarter. Statistics from 2009 suggest that nearly 30 per cent of children in the country attend private schools. These are not insignificant figures. Hence the state`s mechanism to regulate private educational institutions needs to be strengthened so that private schools adhere to baseline quality standards and parents are protected from random fee hikes and other dubious charges.

Source : http://www.dawn.com/2011/04/03/fee-hike-in-private-schools.html

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